I can't say I was too surprised when Michael Young told me a few weeks ago that he was mulling retirement. Initially, I was a little sad. Strange to think of baseball without Michael Young. But it didn't take long for that feeling to quickly change. If you know Michael, you know what matters to him -- family and baseball. In that order. Leaving the latter was best for the former. Props to you, Young.
When I first began covering the Rangers in 2004, Young was already the face of the franchise -- a label he never asked for but always embraced. He was always willing to talk, regardless of the situation. That's huge for those of us who count on interviews for a paycheck. And you might remember, there wasn't always a lot of great stuff to talk about around that time. Nonetheless, Young was there. Always.
Over the next few years, I began spending more time at the ballpark and in the clubhouse. Young became the Old Faithful of the Rangers pre- and postgame shows. He treated me -- and everyone for that matter -- with respect and courtesy. That's not always the case with professional athletes or human beings in general. It was a given with Young.
At some point -- I'm not sure exactly when -- I began to consider Young a friend. Maybe it was when he started calling me "Jones" and giving me all kinds of grief in the clubhouse (the ultimate compliment to me). Maybe it was when I was a hormonal, pregnant mess and he gave me parenting advice. Maybe it was when he and Ian Kinsler made it a point to meet my newborn son, Henry, (we all know dudes don't dig newborns unless they are theirs). Maybe it was when Young took time out of batting practice to have a chat with my 10-year-old niece who idolized him. I'm not sure when it was, but I'm thankful for that friendship.
And I'm thankful for Cristina Young. If you think Michael is cool, you should meet his better half. She's the female version of him -- genuinely kind, cool as a cucumber and as steady as they come. Total stud.
As a "member of the media" (thank goodness I'm not one of those anymore), you're supposed to keep your distance, but I feel like my role with the Rangers over the last few years has given me a unique perspective on this organization, and Michael Young has been a huge part of that.
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have covered one of the best guys to ever play this game. It will never be lost on me that the way I am treated in the clubhouse today is a direct reflection of the way Michael treated me.
Thanks, Rangerman. You will be missed.
Emily Jones has been covering Michael Young and the Texas Rangers since 2004 for FOX Sports Southwest. She also produces the Emily's Outtakes video features on texasrangers.com. She joined the Rangers organization as a television broadcaster in November 2013.